The first time I tasted this wine, a sparkling wine from Verdicchio, it was during our first visit to the winery in the Marches and it was the first occasion that I sat down to taste with grape grower and winemaker Alessandro Fenino and his wife Silvia Loschi, who manages the estate.
“Because we come from a tradition of classic-method sparkling wine,” he told me, “we decided to make this wine, a homage to Barone Pizzini,” Pievalta’s sister winery, where Alessandro and Silvia both worked for many years before leaving to found the winery in Castelli di Jesi.
Honestly, I had never even heard of a sparkling Verdicchio before that day and I was a little skeptical.
From Garganega to Greco, winemakers across Italy are introducing new sparkling wines and many of them never rise above the level of novelty and curiosity. Because of the ever growing demand for sparkling wine, it will always have that allure for winemakers. But not all grapes work well as sparklers.
I liked the wine a lot when I tasted it with Alessandro but didn’t have the time or the occasion to really “live” with it.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to open a sample bottle at home (sent to me by the importer). My wife, Tracie P, and I opened with my bandmates (my band is Nous Non Plus) paired with fried tortilla chips and guacamole and salsa.
The first thing that impressed me about it was how fresh the wine was. In part, I think this is due to Alessandro’s skill as a veteran sparkling winemaker. He comes from one of the best wineries in Franciacorta, after all.
But I believe its Alessandro’s talents as a biodynamic grower that really sets this wine apart from the many new entries for sparkling wine from Italy. I saved one glass in the bottle and sealed with a sparkling wine stopper. The wine was still very fresh the next day and the fruit and beautiful herbaceous quality were even more pronounced and distinct. That really blew me away.
Where Champagne can tend toward steely minerality and gripping acidity and Franciacorta toward delicate aromatics and ripe white fruit, this wine had a gorgeous sage note to it that I loved and its stone fruit flavors were beautifully focused. As I mentioned above, the more it aerated, the more delicious it became.
I loved the way that it stood up to the heat of the salsa and the guacamole and the saltiness of the chips seemed to be echoed in the savory character of the Verdicchio. Great wine…